Nervous about flying alone for the first time? Flying alone, especially for the first time, can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one. As you embark on your solo travel adventure, you may be filled with a mix of excitement, anticipation, and anxiety. But fear not! With a little preparation and some helpful tips, you can make your first solo flight a smooth and stress-free experience.
I’ve taken flights all over the world, most of the time on my own. From short hops in Europe to long-haul flights up to 16.5 hours long to the other side of the world I’ve been flying solo for the best part of 20 years so I know a thing or two about taking a flight alone! I’ve brought together all of my tips in this guide to flying alone for the first time to provide you with everything you need to know to make the most of your solo flight.
From packing smart to navigating the airport like a pro, I’ve got you covered whether you’re heading out for a weekend getaway or embarking on a longer backpacking adventure. So sit back, relax, and get ready to take off on your solo flying adventure!
My Top Tip for Flying Alone for the First Time: Planning
Do you know that saying “failing to prepare is like preparing to fail”? I find it can be applied very well to travel, in particular flying. There are lots of things to consider before taking your first solo flight, like having the correct paperwork and knowing what to pack in your carry-on, how to travel to and from the airport, and what to do if the flight is cancelled or delayed.
I admit I still find travelling a stressful experience. I love being in new places, but actually getting there is not always fun! Thinking about all of these things may be scary at first, but trust me, being prepared for every eventuality will give you a huge amount of confidence when you’re travelling alone, and means you will be ready for your solo flight.
My other top tips for taking your first solo flight are:
- Drink plenty of water before and during your flight to stay hydrated. Bring a reusable water bottle with you to fill up before you board.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep an eye on your belongings and be mindful of any suspicious activity, as you would do at any time when you are travelling alone.
- If you need help or aren’t sure about something, don’t be afraid to ask airport staff or flight attendants for assistance. There is no such thing as a stupid question when you’re flying alone for the first time, and people will be happy to help you.
Now, let’s get down to the details. I’ve tried to list these tips for flying alone in chronological order of when you should do them, but having a read of them all is a big first step towards flying solo with confidence!
Booking Tips for Flying Alone
Before I get into tips for actually flying alone, let’s rewind and check we’ve got the basics covered before you even book that flight! For me, just choosing the best flight and seat option goes a long way to reducing my own travel anxiety, but here are some more tips for booking your first solo flight:
Check your Passport Validity and Visa Requirements
Before you purchase your tickets, check your passport is still in date, and has enough time left to complete your journey. Some countries require at least 6 months of validity remaining on your passport, so check yours carefully to make sure it is well within date and isn’t damaged or expired.
For visa requirements, check the official website of your country to see if a visa is required, and the steps to apply for one. Some visas take time to process so you will have to send your passport to them while they process it – meaning you can’t travel anywhere else during that time.
It can be a good idea to get an agency like ivisa to process the application forms for you, while it does cost more it can save you a lot of worry in the end!
Choose a Reliable Airline
If you can afford to spend a little more to book with a more reputable airline instead of just the cheapest option then go ahead and give yourself some more peace of mind. While there is no guarantee that any airline will run perfectly, you should get better service with the better-known airlines instead of the low-cost ones like Ryanair or JetStar and other cheap companies.
Aim to Arrive in the Daylight
Arriving at your destination in the dark adds an extra level of complication to your travel plans, as transport options are more limited during night-time hours and added safety concerns to think about. Choose a flight itinerary which will get you to your destination way before the sun goes down, so you have some breathing room in case of any delays.
However, if your flight is delayed and you will arrive at night, don’t worry – I’ll come to that in a minute!
Plan How to Get To the Airport
Make sure you get to the airport in plenty of time, taking into account any possible traffic delays or issues with public transport. The further away the airport is, the more time I leave in case of delays. That usually means I arrive at the airport way too early but I would much rather do that than be running to catch the flight, or worst case miss it all together!
For early morning departures, consider spending the night close to the airport to reduce journey times. Allow for unexpected delays, traffic jams, and unforeseen circumstances. For me, the most stressful part of the journey is getting to the airport, I am constantly worried I will be late!
Plan How to Get From the Airport to Your Accommodation
Think about how you will get to your accommodation when you arrive at your destination. Is there public transport? Is there a shuttle bus you can pre-book that will drop you at your hotel? Will you just get a cab, or can you access data roaming or wifi to arrange an Uber?
Then think about what happens if your flight is delayed. What time is the last bus/train if you arrive later than anticipated? Do you have a back-up plan?
I love bargains, but cheap flights often arrive late at night or leave early in the morning, and mean additional costs to make travel arrangements to and from the airport, so remember that cheaper isn’t always the best!
How to Book the Best Flight for Your Needs
Now you’re ready to find and book your flights, here are a few tips to find the best and cheapest flights for your needs:
If you have the flexibility to travel during off-peak times or on mid-week days, you can often find cheaper flights. Look at alternative airports too as sometimes using a different airport in the same city can show cheaper fares, but do remember the previous tips about getting to and from the airport.
Book Early or During Sales for the Best Deals
Booking your flight well in advance can often result in lower prices, as airlines tend to offer cheaper fares for early bookings. Sign up for your preferred airlines’ newsletters and keep an eye out for any sales and promotions offered, especially during holiday periods or special events.
Use Price Comparison Sites
I always use Skyscanner to compare prices from different airlines and find the best deal. Other sites like or Google Flights or Kayak have similar services, then when it comes to choosing which flight I will always book direct with the airline and not a 3rd party to make sure I have a ticket with the airline itself.
Use Airline Rewards Programs
If you will be flying frequently with a specific airline, join their rewards program to earn points and receive discounts on future flights. Some credit cards offer rewards and perks with airlines such as free checked bags or access to airport lounges, which can save you money in the long run.
Book Your Preferred Seat
Once you’ve chosen your flight, then comes choosing your seat. If you book your flight in advance you have a better chance of being able to select your preferred seat. SeatGuru is a great website that allows you to view the seating planes of your flight so you can pick your favourite seat.
It comes down to personal preference whether you choose an aisle or a window seat (I’m pretty sure no one prefers the middle seat!) but I am always a window girl as I like to see where we’re going and see some daylight when I can. That also helps my motion sickness as I can usually see the horizon out of the window.
On the other hand, aisle seats have the advantage of being able to get up and move around whenever you want, without waiting for someone else to wake up or having to clamber over them awkwardly when you need to go to the bathroom!
If you’re tall you might want to consider booking a seat with extra legroom so you can stretch out a little. Upgrading to Premium Economy or Business Class might not be financially possible but maximising the space you have can really help your comfort.
You could also consider reserving an extra seat next to you, which can work out cheaper than upgrading class, but will give you double the amount of space!
I’d also suggest avoiding the very back seats as they are usually next to the toilets where you might have to contend with unpleasant smells and people standing over you while they wait in line for the toilet.
A seat towards the front usually means you will be able to disembark first, meaning you won’t have to wait as long in the passport queue at the other end.
Consider Buying Travel Insurance
I never leave for a trip without travel insurance, and I was very glad I had insurance when I had my laptop and passport stolen in Ecuador! I look for cover for my belongings in case they are lost or stolen, and for health coverage in case I get sick or injured while I’m away.
I also like to have coverage for lost luggage and trip cancellations, and I buy my travel insurance as soon as I have bought my flights in case anything happens.
I hate having to think about the worst things that could happen, but I would much rather have insurance and know that I don’t have to worry about covering the cost of replacing all my belongings or health bills which can cost a crazy amount!
I chose World Nomads Travel Insurance for my current backpacking trip to Australia and New Zealand.
World Nomads offers travel insurance for independent travellers and intrepid families and offers cover for more than 150 adventure sports and activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more. Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.
Onward Travel Plans
More often than not, you will have a return flight booked to come home, but if you booked a one-way ticket and are backpacking or travelling around different places without a set return flight, some countries require proof of onward travel before they allow you to enter the country, and some airlines won’t let you board the plane without it.
If you know your plans, take a screenshot or print out that confirmation ready to take with you to the airport with your other travel documents.
If you don’t have onward plans, a flight booking service like onwardticket.com will buy you a return flight for $14 USD which is valid for 48 hours to allow you to pass through security without any problems. NB: I haven’t used these kinds of services for a while so I can’t guarantee how good they are!
Packing Tips for Flying Alone
Only bring what you need and try to avoid checking bags if possible to save you time and hassle at the airport. As you’re travelling alone you’ll need to carry everything yourself so packing less means less to carry!
Each airline has its own rules for luggage restrictions for each class of ticket so check them and follow the requirements carefully, especially for low-cost flights. These days, hand luggage often has weight restrictions so make sure you know exactly what you are allowed to take on the plane with you to avoid any last-minute problems at the airport.
Excess luggage costs are very expensive, so weigh your luggage in advance. If you are fit and healthy but struggle to pick up your luggage, it is probably overweight.
If you really have to take everything, wear a jacket with pockets so you can put extra items in the pockets, and wear accessories like scarves and hats and bulky jumpers to get on the flight. Don’t go overboard though, I read about someone who passed out from heat exhaustion because he wore all of his clothes on the flight to avoid baggage fees!
If you do check in a bag, try to avoid packing valuable items in your checked luggage, and carefully wrap any fragile items & cushion them in the middle so they are protected by your clothes.
Make sure that any liquids are packed in waterproof bags or add a plastic seal inside the bottle by unscrewing the cap, placing some cling film over the bottle top and replacing the cap. This creates a water-tight seal and stops unwanted leaks.
I love packing cubes that help me to keep organised.
Make sure you don’t have any restricted items in your check-in luggage, and keep items like laptops, portable chargers and spare batteries with you in your carry-on bag.
Keep Track of your Luggage
Add a label to your luggage for easy identification should it go missing, and a colourful bag or ribbon will help you to identify your luggage on the carousel and avoid the risk of mix-ups when you arrive. You might consider popping a tracker like airtags into your checked luggage to keep tabs on where it is.
The Day Before Your First Solo Flight
You want the day of your flight to be as stress-free as possible, so again, being prepared is the key to a successful solo flight.
Most flights will now allow you to check in online before your flight, so see if you can do that. Some airlines open online check-in several days in advance, others only allow you to do it within 48 or 24 hours before your flight.
If you do get a boarding pass you can usually print a paper version or have an electronic version on your phone, as long as you have battery to show it! I always bring a portable phone charger with me in case of emergencies!
Re-Confirm Your Transport Plans
If you have pre-booked transport to (and from) the airport, now is a great time to double-check everything and re-confirm it with the suppliers. If you are using public transport, check the route and departure times so you know exactly when you have to be at the station or bus stop.
Plan What to Wear
As you’re packing, set aside the outfit that you plan to wear to the airport. You’ll want to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the flight so you’re not stuck in ill-fitting or tight clothing for hours.
If you’re short on luggage space then wear bulky items like a thick jumper and/or a jacket to the airport to save on weight and space in your bag.
Finish Packing & Prepare Your Carry-On
In your hand luggage, remember you can’t take liquids over 100 ml, and small containers of liquid have to be in a clear plastic bag (like a zip-lock freezer bag) or a clear toiletry case & put through security separately from your hand luggage.
Liquids also include pastes, lipsticks, contact lens solutions and more, so pack these into your checked luggage if you have too much to fit in your plastic bag. When you pack your hand luggage keep the bag of toiletries and any electronic items like laptops within easy reach so you can put them in a separate tray to be scanned.
I also like to pack spare underwear, deodorant, toothpaste, and any essentials I may need for the first day or two, in case my checked luggage goes missing.
As an absolute minimum, make sure you have your phone, credit card and passport in your hand luggage, and the flight boarding pass if you have it. Everything else you can manage without, but you won’t get far without these!
Prep Your Meals
If you’re leaving early in the morning, prepare your breakfast the night before so you have as little as possible to do before your trip. If you’re taking any snacks for the plane then get those ready too.
Charge Your Devices
Make sure any electronics are fully charged up before you take that flight. Phones, tablets, laptops, Bluetooth earphones, and anything that you might need for a flight. Bring the charger cables with you so you can charge up while you are in flight, or a small power bank can come in handy to top up.
Check out this article for my tips on what to pack for a long flight.
On the Day of Your First Flight Alone
Do a Last Check
Have a quick final check to make sure you have packed everything you need, like last-minute toiletries, your toothbrush and your passport and mobile phone.
If you think on, check to make sure your flight is on time. A quick check on the airline’s website is usually enough so you are prepared if there is a delay. Even if the flight is delayed it is still usually advised to get to the airport on time in case of a change in situation.
Double-check the name of the airport and the terminal you’re flying from, as well as the flight number and exact departure time.
Arrive Early at the Airport
Give yourself plenty of time to check in, go through security, and find your gate. It’s better to be early than to be rushing to catch your flight.
The closest I’ve been to missing a flight was actually when I was travelling with my brother and there was a mix-up with the airport parking – we ended up parking miles away and running to the boarding gate, it was not fun I assure you!
The good thing about flying alone is that you are in control of your own journey, so if you want to leave for the airport super early then you can, with no judgement from anyone else!
Check-In & Drop Your Bags
When you arrive at the airport, check the departures board for information about your flight and the check-in desk and departure gate. Make sure you have the correct flight number and departure time – once I was queuing up for the wrong flight which was at a very similar time to mine but I was in the wrong terminal!
If you haven’t checked in yet, go straight to the check-in desk and drop your luggage off then head to security.
Remember – Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you need help or aren’t sure about something, don’t be afraid to ask airport staff or flight attendants for assistance. There is no such thing as a stupid question when you’re flying alone for the first time, and people will be happy to help you.
Go Through Security
I usually head through security as soon as I have checked in, as there are often long lines. Follow the directions of airport staff as they will usually tell you which line to join.
Keep an eye on the time – if you are worried you might be late for the flight then tell the security staff as they may be able to allow you to jump the queue.
Empty your pockets and put everything into the trays that pass through the x-ray scanner. You will usually need to take out your laptop, and bag of liquids to put them through separately – although all airports have their own rules. If you are wearing a belt, jacket or large loose jumpers then take them off too.
You may need to remove your shoes if they have metal on them (like hiking boots) or are bulky designs.
Let the security team know if you have any medical implants or anything that might trigger the scanner. Be polite and courteous to them at all times – even if you are tired or stressed out!
Once You Are Through Security
Check your flight departure gate and time, and what time boarding is due to begin. I usually go to the bathroom, pick up some food if needed, fill up my water bottle and go straight to the gate if it has been announced.
If you have lots of time to spare then now is a time to relax, take some deep breaths and treat yourself to a bit of airport shopping or a massage as a reward for making it this far!
Boarding the Flight
Keep an eye on the information screens which will tell you when to go to the gate – set an alarm on your phone if you are worried about missing the announcements. Not all airports have oral announcements for flight boarding, so watch out for the screens and ask for assistance if you can’t read them.
Have your passport and boarding card ready to show to the flight attendant as you board. Check your seat and check with the attendant which side of the aeroplane you will be on (seats usually start with A on the right as you board).
Put larger suitcases and carry-on bags in the overhead lockers, and keep smaller items with you to put under the seat in front. Things like in-flight entertainment, snacks and anything else you might want during the flight.
I usually have a small backpack with such items so I keep that with me at all times to have everything within easy reach.
During the Flight
You’ve done it – the hardest part is over, you are safely on board! Now you can sit back and enjoy the flight.
Flying alone can be a bit boring when you don’t have people to talk to, although I recommend bringing a book, downloading movies, or bringing a game to keep yourself entertained. If you are worried about getting bored on the plane, check out this article with 25+ things to do during a flight.
It can be a great time to catch up on some work (if you don’t need the internet), to watch that movie you’ve been meaning to see for ages, or just to get some sleep!
When You Arrive
Once the plane has landed, remain in your seat until the aircraft has stopped. Check all around your seat area to make sure you don’t leave anything behind, and once you stand up have a glance back at your seat for anything you might have missed. Collect anything you stored in the overhead lockers.
Go Through Passport Control
If you took an internal flight without leaving the country (or a flight within Europe) then you can go straight to the luggage carousel, but for international flights, head to passport control, and have your passport handy.
If you need the bathroom, try to wait until you get to the luggage collection, as you will usually have to wait for your luggage anyway so you will have time to spare there.
Bring a pen with you to fill in any immigration forms. Have your passport and hotel address handy as these are usually required on such forms.
The immigration officer may ask you some questions about how long you expect to stay, what the purpose of your visit is and what your onward travel plans are, so have your answers prepared.
Collect Your Luggage
If you checked in any luggage, check which carousel will be used for your flight. Collect your luggage; if you need a luggage cart a couple of coins in the local currency may come in handy.
If you need cash to cover your journey to the hotel you could change some money or take out cash at the airport. However, exchange rates are usually terrible at airports, so if you can take cash out, some travel cards like Wise or Revolut offer fewer fees and a better rate than changing cash.
Head to Your Accommodation
As you will have already researched how to get to your accommodation, you will know what to do at the airport when you arrive. Follow the signs for public transport or pickups, or the directions provided if you pre-booked a shuttle or a taxi.
Well done, you made it!
If You Are a Nervous Flyer
Taking your first flight alone can be intimidating and even scary, but I hope these tips for flying alone have helped to set your mind at ease and to prepare for a smooth flight.
If you are feeling nervous about flying alone because you are afraid of flying in general then there some ways you can reduce anxiety before taking a solo flight. My friend Rachel from Blond Wayfarer has some great tips for how to deal with a fear of flying, you can read that article here, or check out these suggestions:
Tips for Reducing Anxiety Before a Flight
here are some tips that can help nervous flyers reduce their anxiety:
- Breathing exercises: Practice deep breathing exercises before and during the flight to calm your nerves.
- Visualization: Imagine yourself in a calm and peaceful place to help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Listen to music: Bring calming music or nature sounds to listen to during the flight.
- Talk to a professional: Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor before your flight if you have severe anxiety or fear of flying.
- Knowledge is power: Educate yourself about flying and the safety measures in place. Knowing more about the process and procedures can help alleviate anxiety.
- Share your fears with the crew: Letting the flight team know you are nervous about flying means they are aware and might be able to suggest other tips or ways to make you feel more at ease – like meeting the pilot for example!
- Choose your seat carefully: Choose a seat that makes you feel the most comfortable. This could be a window seat where you can see outside, or an aisle seat where you have more room.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Stay away from caffeine and alcohol before and during your flight, as they can increase anxiety.
- Distractions: Bring distractions such as a book, puzzle or crossword to take your mind off the flight.
Remember, it’s natural to feel anxious about flying, but with the right tools and strategies, you can manage your anxiety and have a safe and enjoyable flight.
Have I missed anything? If you think I should include anything else in this epic guide for people taking their first solo flight then please let me know! I hope you found these tips for flying alone for the first time useful, and that you enjoy your flight!
Considering Travel Insurance For Your Trip?
- Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. I always buy travel insurance for my trips and was very glad I had insurance when I had my laptop and passport stolen in Ecuador!
- I chose World Nomads Travel Insurance for my current backpacking trip to Australia and New Zealand. World Nomads offers travel insurance for independent travellers and intrepid families, and offers cover for more than 150 adventure sports and activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more. Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.
As an affiliate, I receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. I do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
- I have also used SafetyWing which is available for purchase online in 180 countries and you can also buy it while you are already travelling. SafetyWing travel medical insurance is charged on a month-by-month basis so a great flexible choice for digital nomads or if you're not sure of your future plans.
- Alternatively, use a comparison site like Travel Insurance Master to find the best cover for you.